Mikaela Shiffrin rolls into Killington World Cup on fire, fueled by a decision to stay put

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Maybe your most recent memory of Mikaela Shiffrin is February’s Olympics, where she failed to finish her three best events and had a top individual result of ninth place. Maybe your most recent memory is her rebound last March, winning the World Cup Finals downhill and a fourth overall season title.

Or maybe it’s what happened last weekend. For the first time in her career, now in its 12th season, Shiffrin won the first two races of a season — back-to-back slaloms in Levi, Finland. They were her 75th and 76th World Cup victories, moving closer to the only skiers with more — Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86).

The pursuit of those legends is a major storyline for the forseeable future, but is still far off as the women’s World Cup visits the U.S. this weekend for the only time this season. Killington, Vermont, hosts a giant slalom on Saturday and a slalom on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET each day, NBC and Peacock).

What’s current is that Shiffrin is back on top in her trademark event after finishing last season with her worst string of slalom results since her rookie season (a DNF at the Olympics, then ninth- and eighth-place finishes in the last two World Cup slaloms).

Shiffrin stresses before every fall that she doesn’t know where she stacks up until everybody starts racing. The preseason prep period can last months and include training on three continents. So much can change for every elite skier from year to year, yet somehow Shiffrin has managed to win at least two races in 11 consecutive seasons (tying a record).

What’s different about this year? Flying. A lack of it.

Shiffrin decided to stay in Europe rather than go back home to Colorado after the Oct. 22 season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria was canceled due to rain and snowfall. It’s the second time in her career — and first time in many years — that Shiffrin didn’t cross the Atlantic between Soelden and Levi, races always separated by three or four weeks.

“Not try and battle the jet lag so many times in a row,” she reasoned.

So she arrived in Levi — 110 miles inside the Arctic Circle — earlier than usual. It paid off with those wins over fields that included Slovakian Petra Vlhova, who last season not only won the Olympic slalom, but also the season-long World Cup slalom discipline title to firmly supplant Shiffrin as the world’s best in the event after a years-long rivalry.

“The last years I’ve been really chasing and trying to get back and trying to just kind of stay with it,” Shiffrin said after Sunday’s victory, which included what she called maybe her best run ever in Levi, where she owns six victories. “I’ve won some races, but it’s always like, oh, I was just lucky to be here now. This is a little different this year. I’ve been working very hard, my whole team, over the summer to try to get my highest level a little bit higher. I think these races showed that it’s there.”

There are other factors. Shiffrin said her back is healthy after it curtailed training at the start of the last two seasons. She has two new ski technicians. Who knows how things have changed for Vlhova after dethroning Shiffrin and winning Olympic gold.

Now Shiffrin heads to Killington, where she has finishes of second, third, fourth and fifth in giant slaloms. She has won all five World Cup slaloms held there. If she makes it six in a row, it will be her 50th career World Cup slalom victory and another sign that last season is truly in the past.

By otherwise staying in Europe through this fall and winter, it’ll be the closest she feels to being at home.

“This expectation just builds and builds, and I think I’ll feel some pressure,” in Killington, she said on ORF in Levi on Sunday. “When you win, that actually only gets harder.”

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2022 Grand Prix Final figure skating TV, live stream schedule

Ilia Malinin
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The Grand Prix Final, the most exclusive figure skating competition of the season and a preview of March’s world championships, airs live on Peacock and E! this week.

The top six per discipline from the six-event fall Grand Prix Series gather in Turin, Italy, at the Palavela, the 2006 Olympic venue. It’s the first Grand Prix Final in three years after the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. qualified skaters in all four disciplines for the first time since 2007, led by the world’s top-ranked man. Ilia Malinin, who turned 18 last Friday, has been the story of the season, becoming the first skater to land a quadruple Axel in competition.

Malinin, the reigning world junior champion, won both of his Grand Prix starts and posted the best total score among all fall events, edging world champion Shoma Uno of Japan. Malinin and Uno will go head-to-head for the first time this season at the Final.

Isabeau Levito, a 15-year-old world junior champion, is the youngest American at a Final since Caroline Zhang in 2007. She qualified in fifth place. The favorites are Japan’s Mai Mihara and Kaori Sakamoto and Belgian Loena Hendrickx.

The U.S. also qualified two pairs’ teams — world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier and Emily Chan and Spencer Howe — and two ice dance couples — three-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker.

For the first time, the Final has no Russian skaters. They are banned from international competition due to the war in Ukraine. For the first time in 25 years, there are no Chinese skaters. China’s top pairs’ teams did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Grand Prix Final Broadcast Schedule
All TV coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

Day Event Time (ET) Platform
Thursday Pairs’ Short Program 1:20-2:15 p.m. Peacock
Men’s Short Program 2:35-3:20 p.m. Peacock
Friday Pairs’ Free Skate 11:35 a.m.-12:40 p.m. Peacock
Rhythm Dance 1:50-2:45 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Short Program 3:05-3:50 p.m. Peacock
Saturday Men’s Short Program* 6:30-7:30 a.m. E!
Men’s Free Skate 7:30-8:30 a.m. E!, Peacock
Women’s Short Program* 8:30-9:30 a.m. E!
Free Dance 1:40-2:40 p.m. Peacock
Women’s Free Skate 3-3:55 p.m. Peacock
Sunday Highlights* 4-6 p.m. NBC

*Delayed broadcast.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde sweeps Beaver Creek World Cup races

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Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde held off Swiss Marco Odermatt for a second consecutive day to sweep World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this weekend.

Kilde won Sunday’s super-G by two tenths of a second over Odermatt, one day after edging Odermatt by six hundredths. France’s Alexis Pinturault took third as the podium was made up of the last three men to win the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing.

This season’s overall figures to be a two-man battle between Kilde, the 2019-20 champion, and Odermatt, the reigning champion, and could come down to March’s World Cup Finals. They’ve combined to win the first five of 38 scheduled races.

The top American Sunday was River Radamus, who finished an impressive 16th given his start number was 57. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the Olympic super-G silver medalist, and Travis Ganong, who was third in Beaver Creek last year, both skied out.

The men’s World Cup heads next weekend to Val d’Isere, France, for a giant slalom and slalom.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

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